College Basketball Conference Tournament Betting Preview - ACC, SEC and American (AAC)
The countdown to the NCAA Tournament is less than one week away. The top teams are preparing for March Madness, and the small conference tournaments are in full swing with automatic-bids being decided during the most intense and exciting time of the college basketball season. Conference tournaments and the NCAA Tournament produce the most live bet games of the season with wall-to-wall media coverage and memorable moments.
The small conference tournaments may not get as many eyeballs or bets, but the Ohio Valley championship was a thrilling finish with underdog Southeast Missouri State (SEMO) topping Tennessee Tech in overtime. Watch the YouTube finish including the last second basket in regulation by TT that had a lengthy delay to determine if it was a 3-point winner. A foot on the line made it a two pointer, and sent the game to OT where SEMO prevailed for the NCAA Tournament automatic bid, as the No. 5 seed. A first NCAA Tournament appearance in 23 years for SEMO, and this is what conference tournament action is about as young players, especially from the smaller conferences with one-bid, realize their dreams of making it to the Big Dance.
The week before the NCAA Tournament and Selection Sunday on March 12, big conference basketball tournaments tipoff. We'll shoot for covering 8-9 conference tournaments with selective stats and information you can bet on to assist you when wagering at your online sportsbooks. And know that despite all the regulated sportsbooks across the U.S. in nearly 30 states, there are still benefits to wagering offshore.
Be sure to join the BetOnline huge March Madness contest ahead of the 2023 NCAA Tournament.
In Joe Lunardi's Bracketology for ESPN, these conferences will have multiple bids to the 2023 NCAA Tournament. We'll be covering these conferences in the days ahead of major conference tournament action, including the Pac-12 and Mountain West, which I will be attending in Las Vegas.
Big Ten (10)
Big 12 (7)
Big East (5)
Pac 12 (3)
Mountain West (3)
West Coast (2)
The West Coast Conference championship game is Tuesday, March 7. I stopped by to catch some action Monday night at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. My first big bet of conference tournament action was a winner as San Francisco (+15) battled Gonzaga hard through the second half, cutting the lead to 2 and 4 points inside the 10 minute mark before ultimately falling 84-73. I bet the SF Dons all three games as ATS winners, and will have select bets throughout conference tournament play. Top seeds Gonzaga and St. Mary's will decide the WCC champion and both are secure for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
I add futures odds, stats and some picks to win conference tournaments. But I bet few futures, although I took one shot on San Francisco (+10000) at the best longshot odds, as shopping futures odds and betting lines at top online sportsbooks is significant if you plan to profit more with your bets. I currently have Arizona to win the Pac-12 tournament with the injury to UCLA's top defender, and also a NCAA Tournament future on the Arizona Wildcats (+2200) to win the Big Dance.
2023 NCAA Conference Tournament schedules brackets, scores and automatic bids
The ACC tournament starts March 7 and last year's NCAA Tournament finalist North Carolina is on the bubble and on the outside looking in for a 2023 NCAA Tournament bid.
I broke down the college basketball top defensive teams a few weeks ago, and the ACC is clearly lacking defensive strength compared to other conferences and national rankings. No ACC team ranks in the top-25 defensive efficiency ratings, according to KenPom's ratings.
ACC Tournament - Greensboro Coliseum Complex, Greensboro, NC
First Round: March 7 on ACC Network
Second Round: March 8 on ESPN
Quarterfinals: March 10 on ESPN and ESPN2
Semifinals: March 11 on ESPN and ESPN2
Championship: March 12 on ESPN
ACC Tournament Odds to Win (BetOnline)
- Duke (+275)
- Miami (+375)
- Virginia (+350)
- North Carolina (+600)
- Clemson (+675)
- NC State (+1000)
- Pittsburgh (+1400)
- Virginia Tech (+2800)
- Wake Forest, Syracuse (+5000)
- BC, FSU, Georgia Tech (+15000)
- Notre Dame (+20000)
- Louisville (+50000)
Top team stats (KenPom ranking ACC/National)
Miami (1/13), Pitt (2/29), VT (3/34), NC State (4/36), Wake Forest (5/52), Duke (6/64), North Carolina (7/68) Virginia (8/73), Clemson (9/74)
Duke (1/27), Virginia (2/34), North Carolina (3/43), Clemson (4/64), NC State (5/80)
The best coaches in the ACC Tony Bennett and Jim Larrañaga lead two of the top teams. Virginia and Miami were co-ACC regular season champions (15-5), but Duke a game back is the ACC Conference Tournament favorite. The Cavs and Blue Devils have top rated defenses in a weaker ACC. Except well-coached Clemson with Brad Brownell has the ACC's No. 1 FG% defense and No. 2 FG% offense behind Miami. The Tigers also have the league's top 3-point shooting team and No. 1 free throws (79.5%) with a top-5 rebounding and assist-to-turnover team in the conference. Clemson looks like a legitimate dark horse and one to bet along with Miami, who can score more, beat Virginia at their own game and won seven straight games before a one-point loss to rival FSU in the season finale.
Pick to Win: Clemson or Miami
The SEC Tournament starts March 8 and the SEC Network will televise the opening two rounds and a pair of quarterfinal games along with ESPN. The semis and championship game are on ESPN.
SEC Tournament - Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN
First Round: March 8
Second Round: March 9
Quarterfinals: March 10
Semifinals: March 11
Championship: March 12
SEC Tournament Odds to Win (BetUS)
- Alabama (+170)
- Tennessee (+260)
- Kentucky (+450)
- Texas A&M (+550)
- Auburn (+1100)
- Arkansas (+1200)
- Missouri (+2500)
- Vanderbilt, Mississippi State (+4000)
- Florida (+10000)
- Georgia, Ole Miss, SC, LSU (+50000)
The 2023 SEC Tournament Bracket. pic.twitter.com/zje4h76PWh— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) March 5, 2023
Top team stats (KenPom ranking SEC/National)
Missouri (1/9), Kentucky (2/14), Alabama (3/20), Vanderbilt (4/22), Texas A&M (5/32), Tennessee (6/49), Arkansas (7/53), Auburn (8/56)
Tennessee (1/1), Alabama (2/3), Mississippi State (3/8), Arkansas (4/17), Auburn (5/25), Florida (6/32), Texas A&M (7/36), Kentucky (8/68)
Top seed Alabama is positioned to earn their first-ever No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. SEC Player of the Year and top scorer Brandon Miller leads a 'Tide team tops in SEC scoring (82 PPG) and a top-3 defense, per KenPom. Missouri is No. 2 in the SEC at 80 PPG, followed by Kentucky (76) and Arkansas (75). Mizzu is also tops in FG% at 47.7%, followed by Arkansas (47.5%), Kentucky (46.0%) and Alabama (44.8%). The top rebounding teams are Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky.
The league has really upgraded its coaches in recent years, and Tennessee with coach Rick Barnes boasts the No. 1 adjusted defense in the country. Arkansas has been elevated with Eric Musselman, and Texas A&M's Buzz Williams just earned co-Coach of the Year honors along with (somehow) Jerry Stackhouse of Vanderbilt instead of Nate Oats at Alabama.
During the regular season, many top SEC teams knocked each other off, including Texas A&M over Alabama to close the regular season. A&M is on an 8-1 run with its only loss during that time to Mississippi State.
Alabama is the best and Tennessee can gain victory with their defense and balance. Eight SEC teams are projected to make the NCAA Tournament, so you can look down the odds board for more value and capable teams to win the conference tournament such as Arkansas or Missouri in a most competitive SEC Tournament.
Pick to Win: Texas A&M or Kentucky
American Athletic Conference (AAC)
Houston is a dominator with an elite, top defense, and the Cougars and Memphis Tigers are the clear top teams. The AAC tips off its conference tournament on Thursday, March 9.
AAC Tournament - Dickies Arena -- Fort Worth, Texas
First Round: March 9 on ESPNU
Quarterfinals: March 10 on ESPN2 and ESPNU
Semifinals: March 11 on ESPN and ESPN2
Championship: March 12 on ESPN
AAC Tournament Odds to Win (SportsBetting.ag)
- Houston (-325)
- Memphis (+450)
- Cincinnati, UCF (+1400)
- Tulane (+2200)
- Wichita State (+2800)
- Temple (+3300)
- South Florida (+12500)
- Tulsa, SMU, East Carolina (+25000)
Top team stats (KenPom ranking AAC/National)
Houston (1/5), Memphis (2/39), Cincinnati (3/55), Tulane (4/75)
Houston (1/5), UCF (2/40), Memphis (3/42), Wichita State (4/75), Cincinnati (5/77)
The Houston Cougars (29-2) dominated the conference going 17-1, and Houston was the only team in NCAA basketball to go undefeated away from home (12-0). With the league's most dominant defense allowing just 55 points per game -- 10 PPG fewer than any other AAC team -- the Cougars should claw their way to an AAC Tournament title while securing an NCAA Tournament No. 1 seed. Houston has a top-5 efficiency offense and defense in college basketball per KenPom, with dominating stats in scoring margin (+20 PPG), FG% defense, rebounding margin and blocks.
Houston is an easy pick to win, but even at -325 odds there is risk. Memphis is averaging 80 points per game while leading the AAC with a 48.3% FG shooting and holding all opponents to less than a 41% field goal rate on defense. Consider the Tigers as an upset option if you're not willing to lay the big price on the Cougars.
Pick to Win: Memphis or Houston
Check back for more updates, odds and information you can bet on as college basketball major conference tournament action tips off.
FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and insightful analyst with proven winning results including in college basketball. He chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter: @FairwayJay